Clean up the birth area and answer the family’s questions
There are many helpful books for parents and caregivers of children with
disabilities. Disabled Village Children, Helping Children Who Are Blind, and
Helping Children Who Are Deaf are all available from the Hesperian Foundation.
What causes birth defects?
Some babies form differently inside the womb, and no one knows why.
But many birth defects can be prevented. Some birth defects happen when:
• the mother did not get enough good food to eat in pregnancy.
• the mother was exposed to sicknesses like herpes, chicken pox
(varicella), or German measles (rubella) during pregnancy.
• the mother had to work with toxic chemicals (like pesticides)
• the mother was given unsafe medicines or drugs during pregnancy.
Birth defects should not be treated as a problem for families to deal with on
their own. Their causes affect the whole community. To prevent birth defects,
we must change the world we live in so that it is safer for women and families.
Immunizations given at birth
Hepatitis B vaccine Hepatitis B is a serious infection that can cause fatal liver
disease (see page 336). Hepatitis B can be passed from an infected mother to a
baby during birth, and later is spread by contact with infected blood or body
fluids, like HIV is. The vaccine is very effective for prevention. For best protection
the first of 3 injections (sometimes 4) should
be given at birth.
BCG vaccine In some places where there is a
lot of tuberculosis (TB), a vaccination called
BCG is given to all babies at birth to prevent
severe (disseminated) TB. In other places this
vaccination is only given at birth to babies of
mothers who have TB. BCG vaccination does not always work, so people who have
been vaccinated should still be careful not to be exposed. Babies who are HIV
positive and have any signs of illness should not be given the BCG vaccine.
If you do not give these vaccines yourself, help the mother have the baby
immunized as soon as possible. For a complete listing of childhood
immunizations, see Where There Is No Doctor, page 147.
Clean up and answer the family’s questions
Clean up the birth area. Anything that has blood on it, including the placenta, must
be disposed of so it does not spread germs. See page 67 to learn how to safely
dispose of tools and wastes.
Make sure the parents have all of their questions answered before you leave.
A Book for Midwives (2010)